Recently, I was watching wild turkeys on the grounds of the Sacramento Temple. For years, a big flock of turkeys has enjoyed a really good thing there. They have the run of a huge area, and no one bothers them—except maybe the geese.
However, turkeys are not known for their great intelligence, and they may be about to ruin the good thing they’ve got going for them there. They have developed a new game. They fly up into the small trees in the parking lot near the entrance of the temple and jump or bounce from one small branch to another breaking or knocking off many small limbs in the process.
As I watched them playing this new game, it occurred to me that those people responsible for caring for the temple grounds and keeping them gorgeously manicured are not going to take this sitting down. Some turkeys may be about to lose their happy home.
I thought about the many ways we can lose our happy eternal home by our inability to see the whole picture.
Every six months we hear from prophets and apostles during General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We listen, smile, and come away on a spiritual high. We hear words of counsel on how we should be living our lives to prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Like a New Year’s resolution, we promise ourselves and Heavenly Father that we will do better—but Monday morning comes. We want to get out of bed and read our scriptures, but somehow—just like the small branches entice the wild turkeys—we are tempted to pull the covers over our head and sleep an extra 30 minutes.
Perhaps those who suffer from chemical addictions and pornography find their way back to the same addictions at the close of General Conference rather than seeking out the help they need. Some of us promise to really “minister” to the needs of our fellow travelers on this planet but slide back into the pattern of saying, “If you need anything, call me.” We promise ourselves to do our family history and take family names to the temple, but it never seems to happen. We make plans to go to the temple more often, but we don’t get there.
Unfortunately, the procrastination of eternal matters has much bigger consequences than the procrastination of the January diet and exercise program in our New Year’s resolution. Over the past few years, it seems to me that prophets, seers, and revelators have become very blunt about our times and the situation in the world than they ever have before—at least in my lifetime. We listen, but do we really hear? If we are hearing, we are not procrastinating.
President Russell M. Nelson has been very open about the fact that we have offended the Savior over the last 150 years by neglecting to correct people when they call us Mormons, and even following suit by calling ourselves Mormons. Interestingly enough, we’ve been hearing about this for a long time from our leaders, but it has fallen on deaf ears. I think we are finally beginning to hear. I was struck by the calm, firm voice of President Nelson, as he explained the importance of taking on the Savior’s name.
Thus, the name of the Church is not negotiable. When the Savior clearly states what the name of His Church should be and even precedes His declaration with, “Thus shall my church be called,” He is serious. And if we allow nicknames to be used or adopt or even sponsor those nicknames ourselves, He is offended.
What’s in a name or, in this case, a nickname? When it comes to nicknames of the Church, such as the “LDS Church,” the “Mormon Church,” or the “Church of the Latter-day Saints,” the most important thing in those names is the absence of the Savior’s name. To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan. When we discard the Savior’s name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us—even His Atonement (President Russell M. Nelson, “The Correct Name of the Church,” Oct. 2018 General Conference).
President Nelson, President Oaks, President Eyring, and 12 apostles are giving us clear instruction on a lot of things. They don’t tell us these things lightly. It would be much easier for them if they could “retire” from giving us counsel—but what they have to say is the will of our Heavenly Father through His son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost testifies to the truth of all things.
Hearing prophets, seers, and revelators is easy—with practice. It’s a matter of agency. We all want to be obedient, but we sometimes choose the easy way out. With practice, we learn to control our thoughts and actions to come into line with the Savior.
My children had a kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Robinson, who used to say, “Get your ears out of your pockets.” She would reach into her pocket, pull out an imaginary ear, and pretend to screw it onto the side of her head. As prophets and apostles speak to us, as they did recently in General Conference, we need to take our ears out of our pockets and really hear their messages instead of just listening to forget later.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.